Does Electoral System Contribute to Party Polarization in European Democracies?
This study examines the relationship between electoral system and party polarization through both a qualitative case study of the United Kingdom, Germany, and Switzerland and a quantitative regression analysis of twenty-two democratic countries. The first part of this study analyzes this relationship through an analysis of the frequency and quality of the instances in which each party references the political opposition via party platforms, speeches, and news reports. The United Kingdom and Switzerland appear to have the higher levels of polarization and Germany appears to have the lowest levels of polarization of these three cases. The second part of this study consists in multiple linear regression analyses, using both Reiljan and Dalton’s polarization indexes to determine whether there is a significant relationship between electoral system and affective polarization levels. Counterintuitively, this study concludes that there is no such statistically significant relationship. These conclusions suggest that electoral system does not necessarily affect polarization in established democracies.